Mobile App Development Trends and Innovative Features in 2023
No matter what audience your app is intended for, there’s no denying that innovation is one of the core components of success. A great way to get started is to understand the upcoming mobile app development trends. Let’s talk about them, and as you read, consider how each trend might benefit your business.
Key Mobile App Development Market Insights
According to Grandview Research, the mobile app market worldwide was valued at $187.58 billion in 2021. Estimates predict that this will rise at a CAGR of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030. Grandview Research concludes that one of the driving forces behind the growth of mobile applications is increasing accessibility to the Internet in previously inaccessible areas. Artificial intelligence has made applications more powerful as well, making them a popular choice among consumers.
Gaming, retail and e-commerce, health and fitness, music and social networks remain the most popular areas of use for mobile applications. Entertainment is another major category where mobile apps excel. Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, TikTok, and more dominate this segment, all providing content streaming on demand. These have found more innovative success thanks to advanced ML algorithms that learn from the user’s interests and suggest content that they may enjoy.
Now that we have a deeper understanding of the importance and current state of this space, let’s talk about new trends in mobile app development and how these trends benefit businesses.
#1: Provide Immersive Experiences with Augmented Reality
Several years ago, Google experimented with (and at one point attempted to revolutionize) immersive experiences on smartphones with virtual reality using Google Cardboard and Google Daydream. Although this vision was never fully realized due to hardware limitations, the objective of providing immersive experiences for users lives on in the form of more accessible technology such as augmented reality. Augmented reality developers have access to more powerful tools than ever before in 2023, allowing users to do far more than catch Pokémon.
Augmented Reality for Mobile
AR has a number of benefits when used with mobile devices. Firstly, smartphones are so prolific that they are a great platform for sharing immersive experiences with your audience and are far more practical than bulky, expensive headsets. Apps with AR can yield better user engagement due to more lifelike and interactive elements. Augmented Reality technology also provides practical solutions to problems that can be used beyond consumer spaces, showing potential in business environments as well.
For example, AR can be a powerful solution in navigation. By displaying virtual guides in physical space with the help of a smartphone, users can easily navigate in a building or in an open space to find the required location. Also, AR navigation can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Some of the most important aspects of augmented reality in mobile app development trends include creating 3D objects out of subjects in the real world and utilizing a user’s location to enhance AR experiences. There are challenges that need to be considered, such as the technical difficulty of getting a user’s location. However, artificial intelligence has made it possible to improve location detection. For example, Apple ARKit Location Anchors match camera data to Look Around database images (like Google Street View) to identify the user’s location. This can be more reliable than GPS and allows for more realistic AR experiences.
#2: Improve Security with Advanced Features
In connection with the growth of cyber attacks and their progression, a crucial trend is to improve mobile security with the help of innovative technologies.
One of the hallmarks of modern smartphones is their advanced biometrics technologies. Nearly all modern smartphones use biometrics like fingerprints, face, and voice recognition. Although a bit rarer, some smartphones have iris scanning and whole-hand scanning.
These features aren’t just useful for securing your device. They can also be used to secure mobile applications, or even authenticate access to external systems. For example, a user could use biometric technology on their phone to authenticate themselves when trying to enter a secure room or safe at a business.
However, it’s worth remembering that biometrics cannot protect you 100% of the time and can also fall victim to attackers. Spoofing methods exist for various biometrics. To reduce the likelihood of successful spoofing, developers can enforce more than one biometric method to be used. For example, a user may be required to verify both a fingerprint and a face scan in order to open a safe or access important data. Also, there are different anti-spoofing techniques that can be used to detect liveness.
Other Security Considerations
There are a number of other considerations when creating a mobile app with security in mind. One of the most important principles to use is masking sensitive information where possible. This not only prevents ‘over-the-shoulder’ password theft but also theft by other apps that can see your screen. Mobile developers can also make it so that content of the app is hidden when using the app switcher.
More generally, IPC (inter-process communication) protocols and anti-tampering technologies can prevent hackers from intercepting, modifying, and abusing app features to gain access to data.
#3: Increase User Engagement with Beacon Technology
The most notable advantage of mobile applications is that they are, in fact, mobile! Being able to use software anywhere is incredibly useful. However, this advantage becomes even more effective when leveraged for its potential for marketing and engagement. Devices, powered by Bluetooth Low Energy and called beacons, can be used to send data like advertisements and notifications to smartphones. This can help provide unique, location-based experiences for users. For example, users in a store can receive beacon-based notifications with coupons and special offers related to their proximity to certain products.
Another potential use case of beacons and mobile applications is shopping personalization. If we’re going to share offers and suggestions to customers in the store like in the previous example, these suggestions would be best served while attending to that customer’s personal needs and wants. Understanding a consumer’s previous behavior can help determine what suggested offers may be the most effective when a shopper is in a particular part of the store.
This wouldn’t be possible without gathering data, and beacons are well-positioned to achieve this goal. If consumers are browsing the store in range of these beacons, stores can track a shopper’s journey. When looking at shopping on a larger scale, stores can even record heatmaps of which parts of the store get the most traffic.
Other businesses can also leverage this technology for marketing and engagement notifications. For instance, ridesharing businesses can use beacons mounted on vehicles to send helpful reminders to riders in their notifications.
#4: Expand Functionality with Mobile Payments
There are a number of different ways for money to exchange hands in the modern world. However, one of the most convenient methods is mobile payments with near-field communication (NFC). This allows for secure transactions that can be processed simply by hovering an unlocked smartphone near an NFC-compatible payment terminal. This has a number of benefits:
- Mobile payments are convenient
- Reduced contact minimizes the transmission of disease at checkout
- NFC payments are secure
- It’s fast!
According to Peerbits, NFC payments are estimated to value at $39.8 billion USD by 2026. This is a major motivator for businesses to upgrade to NFC-compatible terminals, as this form of payment is becoming far more popular. Notably, Walmart has experienced harsh criticism for refusing to accept mobile payments aside from their own barcode-based Walmart app payments.
This year, Apple added a Tap to Pay feature to its iOS 16 that allows payment apps to directly accept payments from contactless credit or debit cards, Apple Watch, and smartphones with other digital wallets. This made it possible for every small business to accept electronic payments without the need to install a terminal. All they need is their smartphones.
Mobile payments aren’t just limited to NFC. Consumers can send money to someone else via direct payment applications like Zelle, Cash App, and Venmo. In some cases, these are completely free of fees in the case of Zelle. Supporting these forms of payments often done via mobile devices can make retailers and other businesses more accessible to their customers.
As more and more companies add cryptocurrency as a payment method, mobile crypto payments are gaining popularity. For example, Binance Pay solution enables contactless cross-border payments in cryptocurrency through the marketplace. A business can connect Binance Pay and start accepting payments for their goods or services in crypto.
#5: Boost Efficiency with Mobile Apps That Don’t Require Installation
Two new technologies on Android and iOS are innovating how mobile applications work. These are Google Play Instant and Apple App Clips respectively. These features allow users to try limited portions of an application for one of two purposes:
- To test out the application before installing the full version.
- To only use a specific part of an application that’s needed to save space on the device.
An example of an App Clip for Spin that allows you to quickly rent a scooter and make transactions instantly using Apple Pay without having to open the full app
It’s also possible to use these smaller, more immediately accessible apps to reduce the barrier to start using an app and increase the overall install rate. For online retailers, real estate, and other ecommerce storefronts, an app download can turn away a potential customer. Allowing users to immediately get into the storefront and begin adding things to their cart allows more conversions to be captured.
Not only can this make apps available faster for users, but it helps them save device space. These innovative mobile features make applications more accessible for users with lower-end devices or devices that are nearly maxed out in storage.
#6: Engage Better with Superapps
Increasing the time that active users spend with their services is always a challenge for businesses. In brick-and-mortar retail, shopping malls do everything they can to achieve this. In many malls, retail is only a part of what they offer. Food, beverage, banking, beauty care, and movie theaters are just a few of the things shoppers can access in a mall. In the same vein, businesses are leaning into the ‘superapp’ model to engage with users by offering them a variety of services in the same place.
One of the most notable superapps that use this model is WeChat. Most well-known as a messaging app, WeChat offers far more than communication. Dating, money transfer, financing, and gaming are a few of its features. Other apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Microsoft Start also offer numerous features beyond their primary purpose.
#7 Enhance Scalability with Cloud Computing
Mobile devices are fundamentally less powerful than their desktop and laptop counterparts. Mobile app developers have to face the challenge of designing applications that are optimized for weaker hardware, and this often results in various compromises. This issue is made more complex by the inconsistent hardware specifications of Android devices, which can vary in power from the high end to the low end.
Cloud computing makes it possible for mobile devices to take advantage of powerful hardware from afar. Here are a few notable advantages of mobile cloud computing:
- Offloading processing power to the cloud reduces smartphone power consumption
- Less mobile device storage is used with cloud computing
- Scalability is enhanced greatly
One of the most important advantages in this list is scalability. Updating the backend of the cloud can be done without updating the mobile app, meaning that users will spend less bandwidth downloading important updates. The backend can also be scaled up at any time to meet the needs of the business and its users. The end user may not even notice that a transition took place.
Mobile cloud computing can be used for applications like social media, fintech, and even healthcare. What each of these applications has in common is large amounts of data. For example, social media apps require a great deal of storage and distribution of images and videos. Cloud computing can handle large amounts of data like this far better than mobile devices. After being processed on the cloud, the data can be pushed out in a readable format to a mobile device.
#8 Build Smarter Apps with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Mobile app developers have another useful tool at their disposal: artificial intelligence. According to Mordor Intelligence, AI in mobile markets had a value of $2.14 billion USD in 2021. By 2027, they expect that value will grow to $9.68 billion. These are just a few of the different ways that AI can be leveraged in mobile applications:
- Data analysis and learning
- Supporting backend roles (image recognition, facial recognition, etc.)
- Automatization of tasks (AI virtual assistants)
- Conversational features (natural language processing)
Machine learning is best suited for handling large amounts of data. This could be used directly by the user. For example, AI can analyze financial data to give suggestions to users. AI may also play a role in the backend, analyzing user data to learn from their behavior. This enables businesses to automatically suggest products and features that consumers want based on their past behavior.
Another backend role that is taken advantage of by users is AI’s ability to enhance more well-known features. For example, AI powers features like image recognition, facial recognition, and more. These features can be integrated into basic applications like camera apps, which can auto-focus on someone’s face.
#9: Create a Larger Ecosystem with the Internet of Things (IoT)
Mobile app development stands to benefit greatly from advancing Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. This technology is focused on networks of computers that work together to achieve goals for businesses and consumers. A mobile application tied into these networks can provide users with valuable information about the system and its components.
For example, manufacturing businesses can use IoT-based mobile apps to provide engineers with real-time information about the status of various machines and predictive maintenance timelines. Meanwhile, retail businesses can take advantage of mobile IoT to track products with beacons, analyze store foot traffic, and forecast times of high demand.
There’s also the potential for smartphones to become the acting network themselves. Instead of getting information from an installed network of computers, a number of mobile devices can share their computing power and sensors for certain purposes like locating a lost Bluetooth device.
#10: Reach a Wider Audience with Cross-Platform Solutions
An increasing number of business owners are embracing the idea of developing cross-platform apps to effectively target both iOS and Android users through a unified product. The development of cross-platform technologies such as Flutter and React Native in recent years greatly contributes to this, as it reduces the gap between the capabilities of native and cross-platform solutions.
For example, multiple development teams have reported that Flutter-based apps demonstrate performance levels nearly on par with native applications while offering significantly lower development costs. Also, since the release of Flutter 2.0 in 2021, it has become possible to use the same codebase for the web version of an app, which allows you to increase the reach with minimal effort.
However, it’s worth remembering that cross-platform technologies are not a versatile solution, and in cases where you are looking for native-dependent and platform-specific functionality, you should invest in native development. Such projects include AR apps, solutions with background processing, and applications that require deep integrations with device sensors, device camera or specific native APIs.
#11: Mobile App Development: Monolithic vs Microservice Approaches
A recent shift in software development has transitioned from monolithic applications to utilizing microservices. The traditional approach to programming is to write all code and features within the same project and service. When the user downloads the application, all parts of the project are self-contained.
However, a more innovative programming strategy is to split up projects into microservices. Instead of putting all the eggs in one basket, programmers separate the project into pieces. Each piece works with every other piece in tandem. The main advantage of this is that different teams can work on each microservice. Bugs that occur can also be more easily identified and fixed within each piece. This, for example, can make building such projects as multifunctional superapps far easier to work with during development.
Of course, the choice of approach always depends on the needs of each individual project. Therefore, we carefully study the mobile app RPF (request for proposal) before offering the client a solution that would best meet their requirements.
Future Innovations in Mobile App Development
As time goes on, mobile technologies will only become smarter and more advanced. Mobile app development is a market that is highly responsive to innovation. Consumers crave new, useful, and accessible technologies. This is why advancing AI, beacons, IoT, NFC, blockchain, and other technologies integrate into mobile app development easily. Because of this, it’s critical for business leaders to follow trends of innovation.
Also pay attention to mobile accessibility testing not only to make your app available for people with disabilities, but also to keep the application in line with current legislation norms. Having conversations with experts is extremely important here, as this can lead to solutions that can help lead your product to success.
With years of experience in mobile application development, MobiDev can transform your vision into reality. Contact us today so we can discuss how we can achieve your objectives.